If you’re already interested in or researching ways to get fit and healthy, then you probably already know about all the benefits you stand to gain from living a healthier lifestyle. That’s great, but for kids it can sometimes be difficult to understand why changes in diet and activity are so important. Particularly with younger children and especially in an age of digital entertainment it’s tough to motivate kids to just play outside and it can be really difficult to introduce healthier foods to picky eaters. That’s why talking to your kids about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle is so important, the earlier the better.
The first thing that you want to avoid is talking down to your kids. It can be easy to just take the role of parent and tell them what’s best but kids don’t like being told what to do, especially if it gets in the way of what they’d rather be doing instead. Rather than just saying “I’m the parent and this is what’s happening” try to make them feel equal and involved in the decision making process. If they feel like the decision to live healthier is theirs, they’re more likely to accept healthy changes rather than rebel against them. If they chose the broccoli for dinner then they’re less likely to turn up their nose and leave it sitting on their plate.
Remember that you’re not just telling them what the changes around the house are going to be, you’re explaining to them why these changes are going to be good for them and help them to feel better. Obesity and unhealthy habits are quite prevalent in children if left unchecked and it can be dangerous to let bad eating and exercise habits become permanent fixtures in their life. Spending a ton of time in front of the television or computer and eating a bunch of junk food will seem like a good time to them, so explaining to them how it hurts their body might be what it takes to get them on their feet and outside.
For older kids getting the message across is easier because they have a greater understanding of how the world works, but this can prove to be challenging for other reasons. I’m sure you remember being a teen yourself, headstrong and always knowing what’s best for yourself. It might seem like what you’re saying goes in one ear and out the other, but don’t give up after just one unsuccessful try. Remember that respect and speaking to them on equal footing goes a long way in helping them to feel involved in the healthy decisions they’re making for their life.
In the end how you go about it isn’t nearly as important as making sure you actually do talk to your kids about the importance of eating healthy and getting good exercise. Make sure that you take the time to help them understand the healthy changes you’ll be making together as a family.